Challenge #02162-E333: To Seek Out New Life
The 'Enterprise' crew discover P'ting -- Anon Guest
Captain's Log: Stardate... unknown. We have been flung by an unknown force into a nebula that could be tremendously far from home or... could be in another dimension. Commander Spock has been working on determining the exact destination in which we find ourselves. In the meantime... we pursue our primary mission to seek out and explore... anything... that is new.
The bridge of the Enterprise was quiet, but it was the kind of quiet made by people being very busy at their jobs. There was the quiet snap and click as people pressed buttons or toggled switches, the gentle creak of the best minds Starfleet had to offer being pressed to their utmost as they attempted to match the data they were getting against the knowledge they already had.
The Enterprise scanners registered an incoming object, but it was so small that the hull should just ignore it. It was a statistical blip in the middle of all the nothing that was happening. When the deaths started happening, on the other hand, that was when the train of regret lead to a small mass that had actively steered towards the ship.
A trail that wound its way through several strange malfunctions, that were traced to increasing damage in the workings of the Enterprise. Scotty, of course, was greatly upset at the damage. It was if something the rough mass of a three-year-old child was digging tunnels through solid duranium alloy as if it were nothing more than loose soil. Worse, when analysis revealed that something was eating the walls in its way, Scotty was beside himself.
"What sort of wee beastie just nibbles on duranium like it's candy?" he protested.
They would find out soon enough. It had already killed five crewmen who attempted to catch it with their bare hands. The toxin exuded by its skin was the worst, quickest poison that any crew had ever encountered. It was roughly the mass of a three-year-old child. The head was most of its mass, and a large portion of that was taken up by deeply dark eyes. It had sharp teeth inside its ready maw and a seemingly unending appetite for non-organic materials. It did not need to breathe, which was why the sleep gas attempts had been failures.
"Analysis, Mr Spock?"
Spock was careful to keep his distance. "Fascinating. Life that has evolved to survive in vacuum, Captain. A species that consumes anything freely available in the gulfs of space. Non-organic matter, and... energy." As if to prove his point, Spock removed the power pack from his tricorder and tossed it to the creature.
It pounced on it and gulped it down in seconds.
"Obviously, it prefers all storage units of energy," said Spock. "Given its progression through the Enterprise, I would posit that the warp core would be its ultimate destination."
"Bugger that," vowed Scotty. He extracted some reserve dilithium from its containment chamber and used it as bait to draw the beast out of the Enterprise via the shuttle bay. The creature followed him like rats after the pied piper, finally leaping out beyond the force field and back into the gulfs of space. The next step was to use the deflector array to detonate the dilithium just as the creature reached it.
Whether or not it survived the blast was not a concern to Scotty, nor those who were mourning the loss of the crewmen who had perished thanks to its presence. The most relieving thing in this entire encounter was that the blast took them back -more or less- to the point at which they had begun.
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